Early North American Spice Tote Box
17th or early 18th century
Approximately 6 inches (height), 6 inches (width), 25⁄8 inches (depth).
Carved from one piece of Red Mulberry, cut to form the lid and case. Hand-wrought hinges and keeper, and totally hand-carved interior. (Note: there is no joinery; the piece is entirely carved from one piece of wood.)
Deep scratch decoration on front, sides and back. The interior has a strong smell of warm spices and is carved-out/gouged-out to accommodate three containers, each with a top.
Found in New Jersey. Considering the age of the box, it was most likely made somewhere along the eastern coastal area of what is now the United States or Bermuda (the interior of what is now the United States had not been settled).
Note: A microscopical examination of the box by Dr. Harry A. Alden, Alden Identification Service, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, determined that the wood used to make the box is Red Mulberry (Morus rubra). “Red Mulberry is widespread in the Eastern United States and extends from Massachusetts and southern Vermont west through the southern half of New York to extreme southern Ontario, Southern Michigan, Central Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota; south to Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, central Kansas, western Oklahoma and central Texas; and east to southern Florida. It is also found in Bermuda....(Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. 1961. Mulberry family: Moraceae. In American wildlife and plants. P. 313-314. Dover Publications, New York.).”